Space Radio Waves Come from Our Own Galaxy

Photo from Google Images

In April 2020, astronomers spotted short, powerful blast of radio waves coming from outer space, and has since successfully found that it was coming from a powerful object within Milky Way, which means this wave is the closest of the kind ever seen.

The waves are better identified as fast radio bursts or FRBs, and are from something called “zombie” star, a remnant of a powerful supernova. Its official name is “neutron star” and such are formed when stars many times bigger than the Sun collapses on itself, oftentimes causing the formation of a neutron star, a magnetar. This magnetic star often has a very powerful magnetic field that can store a tremendous amount of energy and distorting the shapes of atoms.

Although FRBs sometimes appear, this is one of the first times when astronomers had actually successfully pinpointed the source. Unlike other FRBs’ source star, this magnetar is just 30,000 light-years away. This discovery supports a solid connection between magnetars and dynamic space radio waves.

The first FRB was spotted in 2007, but locating the origins had proven to be impossible. FRBs are also very fleeting, which means detection alone can be a challenge in itself. However, in this case, the CHIME of Canada and STARE2 of the US, observatories, both spotted the FRB coming from the same part of the sky. This FRB was also incredibly bright, that even a regular 4G LTE cellphone receiver could have picked up the signal coming from halfway across the galaxy.

Further cementing the hypothesis of a magnetar as a source, just a few days prior to the reception of FRB, the scientists noticed hyperactive magnetar activity in that part of the sky, which was sending out X-rays and gamma rays.

That being said, the astronomers have not declared the mystery of FRBs solved.  They accepted that while the magnetar had released significant amount of X-rays and gamma rays, but the follow-up events did not match up with any significant radio wave bursts. Also, the FRB was still relatively weak compared to even weakest FRB from outside the galaxy.

At the moment, the triumph comes not from the knowledge of absolute solution, but rather, to the pinpointing of a possible candidate and where to further narrow its research.

Coree ILBO/CoreeDaily.com copyright (c) 2013-2020, All rights reserved.

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